HIV is Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV for short. When a person is affected by HIV, he or she gradually loses their ability to fight infections.

What is HIV?

HIV is Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV for short. When a person is affected by HIV, he or she gradually loses their ability to fight infections. The defence mechanism of the body or the immune system becomes weak and as a result, infections set in which become hard to deal with. Normally a person with a healthy immune system can fight off infections within a few days, but for a HIV infected person the process of healing becomes very difficult.

This is known as HIV.

What is the origin of HIV?

The most prominent theory about the origin of HIV is that this virus spread from chimpanzees who were the carriers of SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) and who were hunted by humans for food in Africa. The meat and blood of these chimpanzees were infected. Thus the infection spread to humans by contact and spread to other parts of the world.

This was in 1800s and it spread to other countries, like US around the 1970s.

How is HIV transmitted?

The mode of transmission of HIV includes:

  • Sexual intercourse with an infected partner whether vaginal or anal
  • By using of infected needles and syringes
  • From mother to unborn child, and by breast feeding
  • Infected blood transfusion
What are the symptoms of HIV?

The symptoms of HIV include:

Initially there may be no symptoms, but later on the there may be flu like illness with headache, enlarged lymph nodes, rash and tiredness.

For many years there may be no symptoms but as the viral load progresses, the following symptoms may set in:

  • Lack of energy
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent fevers and sweating
  • Yeast infections
  • Skin rashes or flaky skin
  • Short term memory loss
  • Herpes of mouth, genitals and anal
What are the complications of HIV?

The major complications in HIV are:

AIDS: Is the most advanced stage of HIV. When the level of healthy cells [CD4] drop drastically the ability of the body to fight diseases fails and in addition to other infections some ‘opportunistic infections’ take advantage of the weakened immune system and set in like cancers and tuberculosis.

How is HIV diagnosed?

HIV is diagnosed in the following ways:

  • Blood test or saliva test
  • HIV antigen test
  • CD4 count test

Normally to arrive at a correct diagnosis, a test has to be taken at a 3 months gap after the first test.

Is there a cure for HIV?

As of 2013 there is no cure for HIV. Once you have HIV then you have it for life. Early diagnosis after exposure to any risk factor can help in the treatment of symptoms which may develop because of reduced immunity.

Symptoms mean Infections. The treatment therapy known as ART (antiretroviral therapy] helps manage the Viral load in the body, thus reducing the chances of infections and enabling the HIV infected person to have a normal life expectancy and delaying the development into AIDS.

Can HIV be prevented?

Yes HIV can be prevented. HIV has been known to spread through unsafe contact with contaminated sources. The source could be sexual contact with infected partner or partners which may be oral, vaginal or anal.

Another source is using of contaminated needles and syringes and unscreened blood transfusion.

All these risk factors if avoided can surely prevent the condition of HIV.

Modern Science has made it possible to prevent the spread of HIV from an infected mother to her unborn child to a certain degree.

Male circumcision helps prevent HIV in males up to 60 %.

How does one cope with HIV?

If one is diagnosed with HIV, it becomes very traumatic to deal with it. But one can overcome it mentally and lead a healthy life with a positive approach and early diagnosis after exposure, and thus prevent it from spreading to loved ones.

Family support and care giving and support group sessions help a lot in easing the mental discomfort.

Celebrated Basketball player Magic Johnson was diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and he admitted that it was due to sex with multiple partners but the condition was not passed on to his wife and unborn child. Magic announced his retirement, but made a comeback in 1992 as an excellent coach and a successful businessman and has also helped set up HIV assistance and counselling centres for HIV + people and is an inspiration to many.

HIV does not spread by simply hugging and kissing and hand shake, so do not stop yourself from loving and caring.

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